John Blackburn answers the question; “Why do you need to have your appliances tested and tagged?”.
Welcome back, John from ACME Test & Tagging.
Minus a little bit of hair today, I got a haircut the other day and it’s a little bit shorter than what was I expecting but anyway, it’s summer time, so it’s good.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have been asked the question “Do I need to have my electrical appliances test and tagged?” or there’s another question “Why do I have to have my appliances test and tagged?”.
The answer the both of those questions is pretty easy. Both state and federal workplace safety laws impose a duty of care on both business owners or people who are in charge of workplaces. They must provide and maintain a safe workplace at all times. So, if you are the business owner, in charge of the workplace or what we call PCBU – the Person Conducting a Business or an Undertaking – you’ve got an obligation to identify, control, manage, eliminate any risk or hazard to your workplace or other people that could be visiting your workplace.
The modern workplace is full of electrical appliances, we’ve got leads, we’ve got power tools, maybe computers, toasters in the kitchen, lights on your desk and so on, vacuum cleaners if you’re a cleaner etc. We’re a very “electrified”, for want of a better word, workplace this day.
The question that gets asked is “The appliance that you are going to use, is it electrically safe, are you going to get an electric shock or even worse be electrocuted by it?”. Now we don’t know, so to say “I used it yesterday, it was okay, so it’s fine.”, but that doesn’t stand up to the workplace safety requirements. So you need to develop a process, a system, to make sure that those appliances are electrically safe.
Fortunately, there is a document called the standard AS/NZS 3760 and in that document, it has inspection and testing procedures that you could follow. The good thing about those procedures is they are recognized by the Electrical Regulators, by Worksafe Authorities, Unions and it’s adopted by most industries. In it there’s a forward and I’m going to read this to you because there’s a really important paragraph in the forward, and it says “in service testing is a necessary part of any safety program to help ensure the safety of persons using electrical equipment in the workplace. This standard specifies inservice safety inspection and testing protocols and criteria that satisfies this obligation.”
So it could be argued, and I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, if you follow what is in that standard and if you follow the inspecting and testing procedures they recommend and something does go wrong in your workplace – someone does get an electric shock and gets injured and Worksafe investigate, I think you have a pretty good case to say that you have taken reasonable or steps to manage control and eliminate etc, the risk. From what I understand they would accept that. The key to it though is in the world of OHS “if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist”.
That is the reason why we test and tag; is it’s all about worker safety and so that you can make you meet your obligation under the workplace safety legislation.
If you have got any questions about that, shoot me an email or give me a call.
This information is general in nature, should be used as a guide only and read in conjunction with the relevant Standard(s), State and/or Federal Legislation, Codes of Practice and Industry Standards specific to your workplace. A proper risk assessment should be under taken before acting on the information provided in this document or any related material. Further information can also be obtained from your local Workplace Authority, Electrical Safety Authority or a suitably qualified persons.
This article is copyright protected – view information about our copyright protection.
John has been working in the testing and tagging industry since 2007 when he founded ACME Test and Tagging. He has written several courses on testing and tagging and is the founder of Test And Tag Standards Australia that specialises in test and tag courses.
Recognised as an expert in his industry, John runs a blog on testing and tagging and has had articles published in Safety Snippets magazine.